I’m catching up on some comics I managed not to read so far, like
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel
Find it on: LibraryThing
What it is:
Alison Bechdel (yes, of the Bechdel Test) tells an autobiographical story of growing up with her distant, closeted father and of his suicide. She also describes how she discovered her own homosexuality.
How I found it:
Very deliberately: I went through an NPR list of best comics to find something interesting I hadn’t known and came up with a really long list of stuff to read.
It’s a worthy addition to any list of good comics.
Best things about it:
This is one of those graphic novels that prove the medium goes beyond silly pictures and is a true literary genre (if anyone still needs a proof in this day, I mean). It tells a complete, sombre, unflashy story, using the medium to its fullest capability, creating a collage of words, drawings, quotes and childhood memorabilia.
The honesty of the narrative (or its pretense, but it amounts to the same thing here) makes the story memorable and moving. I feel that the value of each autobiography will always be measured by how much other people can find of their own stories in the author’s one. I’m sure this one resonated with many people and even I, who had mostly very different experience of growing up, found things that felt so close to my childhood.
Worst things about it:
Honestly, I don’t think there’s something I would consider “worst.” I certainly missed some perspective on how the father’s transgressions affected Bechdel’s brothers but then I understand she respected their privacy, keeping them in the background of the narrative.
✤ I like Bechdel’s art, even when it doesn’t leave me stunned with awe. Its directness and simplicity serves the story well and remains clear. The watercolory shading adds a nostalgic feel to the narrative.
✤ I also liked the use of literary classics as leitmotifs for each chapter, including the scholarly analysis. I enjoy when books are treated seriously.
People talk about the humor of the story. Personally I didn’t find it particularly funny – but I didn’t really need the humor either.
How it enriched my life:
Like many things it made me want to draw more.
Fun (?) fact:
So there were two things I felt particularly close to in Bechdel’s story: one was her various obsessive behaviors as a kid, which I did have too, to a much milder extent. Another fact was her last serious talk with her father, not long before he died. It so happened that not too long before my father’s death I also had a serious, personal talk with him about his life choices and life story, unlike any we had before, and I’m forever grateful that we managed to do that.
I might check out Dykes to Look Out for, Bechdel’s most famous comic, though it’s not necessarily my favorite genre. Also, this NPR list is still full of things I’m going to read.
People who like slice of life stories and coming-out stories.
★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Next time: Love, Simon